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A Memorial Day Salute…

Robert Williams - cropped - Color Corrected…to Robert Williams, Jr. of Necedah, Wisconsin, who gave his life for his country in 1944. I’ve mentioned him before and will mention him again; he was my mother’s high-school sweetheart, and had he returned from the War, I am pretty sure they would have married—and I would not now exist. Does this bother me?

Don’t be silly. Love and honor matter.

I don’t know a great deal about Bobby Williams. My mother did not talk about him. I’m pretty sure she moved to Chicago from Wisconsin in 1945 once she knew Bobby was never coming back. I knew nothing more until Craig Williams, one of Bobby’s grand-nephews, contacted me in 2020, and explained how he died during the Victoria in Prom Dress Alonewar: His Navy torpedo bomber crashed into the Pacific on March 9, 1944. Craig sent me a number of photos, including the Navy’s 21-gun salute at his funeral (below) and one of my mother when she was 17, in her prom dress for the Necedah High School Senior Prom. (At right.)

In a slightly weird coincidence, both Bobby and my father were radio operators during the War, Bobby on a torpedo bomber in the Pacific, and my Army father first in Italy and later North Africa.

I’m not sure how much more I can say. WWII was a horrible thing. The best I can say about it is that after VJ Day, people understood that the world might not survive another World War. So far so good. I still worry sometimes.

Alas, millions of good people like Bobby Williams had to die to put that lesson across. I honor all of them, and always will. But Bobby Williams loved my mother until his last breath, for which I honor him, and also hold him in tremendously high esteem. He looks like the kind of guy I could hang out with, trade stories, and knock back a couple of glasses of wine with over dinner. Knowing that I can never meet him doesn’t in any way change my honor or my esteem.

Or…who knows? He’s on my prayer list. Maybe “never” is too strong a word.


Robert Burns Williams JR. Funeral Hawaii

One Comment

  1. Rob Hickok says:

    Fantastic. I’m glad these stories are still around in our criminally forgetful world. Thank you for saving it.

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